It was Tuesday night in the Berkshires, and Sonja Morgan was splayed across a pool table. “Waterfalls” played in the background.
“This is an epic, epic night,” said Bethenny Frankel, narrating one of 26 videos posted to her Instagram story that documented the gathering of New York City’s “Real Housewives.”
Blue Stone Manor, Dorinda Medley’s regal Great Barrington home, played host to the drunken revelry, which presumably came after a long day of filming. Frankel captured the late-night scene in Medley’s billiards room like it was “The Blair Witch Project,” jerking through the dark to land on curious objects: Ramona Singer posing in a lacy dress (“embracing” her “sensuality), Morgan passed out on the pool table, Morgan passed out on the couch, Morgan sliding her hand onto Luann de Lesseps’s behind.
The Berkshires cast a bizarre spell over the ladies, driving them to madness annually for at least four seasons in a row now. There seems to be no recourse.
“This is one of those nights where we needed to let loose. It needed to happen. Bunch of old ladies that are super fun,” Frankel deadpanned. “We just needed to do it. It needed to happen.”
The words were slurred, the dancing was uninhibited. Medley and Morgan, both in their fifties, were clearly wasted, although that’s hardly unusual. Unusual is the raw glimpse into their lives, unedited by producers working to craft 40-minute episodes for basic cable. Frankel’s amateur production basically proved theirs is a cast that needs little editing.
New York may be the highest-stress housewife franchise on Bravo. But it’s also the best.
Indeed, part of what puts the franchise in a league of its own is the magnitude of the struggles the women have faced together. There’s a authentic trust among the cast that doesn’t exist in other cities. It’s a trust (rooted, perhaps, in the stress) that enables them to turn off the lights, guzzle white wine, and give into their impulses on a random Tuesday in October, isolated in a house three hours north of Manhattan.
Frankel’s impromptu “Great Barrington Witch Project” carries a lesson for viewers. The best reality television is produced by the best characters. The best characters don’t need editing.
“It ain’t pretty,” a characteristically blunt Frankel said of the bacchanal at one point in her elongated story. Standing cheek-to-cheek with her, Morgan slurred, “Oh no, it’s good, it’s good. We’re pretty.”
They’re both right. And that’s the beauty of it.